MN United prefers building balanced MLS team over spending big on Euro stars


If you're hoping to see big-name signings at Minnesota United once they enter Major League Soccer you might be disappointed.

Club President Nick Rogers has said that head coach Manny Lagos will be backed financially when his team enters soccer's top league in either 2017 or 2018, but admits breaking the bank to sign decorated European or South American players "makes him nervous."

MLS teams are allowed to sign up to three players above the salary cap, which has prompted teams such as LA Galaxy, the New York Red Bulls and Orlando City to raid the European leagues for superstars such as Steven Gerrard, Kaka, Frank Lampard and David Villa.

But when asked whether this is the formula Minnesota United will follow upon their entry to the league, Rogers told BringMeTheNews it's not how he envisages the club will approach it.

"Getting designated players is not necessarily the formula for success," he said. "I went to watch Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City play in the final a few years ago (in the MLS Cup 2013) and I don't think either team had a designated player."

"It would make me nervous to put that much money into just a couple of guys as you go through every season assuming that at some point somebody's going to get injured," he added.

United approach their season opener against the Tampa Bay Rowdies next Saturday having made a few tweaks to their roster, but sticking largely with the squad that took them to the North America Soccer League spring season championship in 2014, a philosophy they're likely to keep as the entry to MLS approaches.

"We'll need to study it more but for me, I like to build a balanced team," Rogers said, before adding: " But if a designated player is the player we need to win, then we have an ownership that is willing to do that."

What is the designated player rule?

All MLS teams are subject to a salary cap, which in 2014 was $3.1 million, and players in the first 20 roster spots count against the cap, though teams have the options of filling just the first 18 roster spots and splitting the cap between them should they choose.

However, there is a designated player rule that allows franchises to acquire up to three players whose salaries "exceed their budget charges."

These designated player slots can be used to bring in new players from outside the MLS, or retain current MLS players.

It is this rule that saw David Beckham in 2007 sign a 5-year, $250 million deal, of which around $150 million was salary, with the LA Galaxy. It is a similar deal that Steven Gerrard will get when he arrives at the franchise from Liverpool FC this summer, Mirror Sport reports.

Training likely to stay in Blaine

Although much of the focus on Minnesota United's entry to MLS was on the 20,000-seater stadium club officials want to build in Minneapolis' North Loop, just as pertinent to the City of Blaine would be whether the team will keep training at the National Sports Center.

The club came close to moving to a new complex in Woodbury, but backed away at the start of this year and re-affirmed its commitment to Blaine.

And Rogers has indicated that there are no plans to leave their spot in the north metro area, in fact suggesting that it is an ideal set-up for the team given that one of the provisos of moving to the MLS is that the team must have its own youth developmental system.

"It's quite a complex," Rogers said. "They're adding more fields up there and we have a great relationship with the NSC, they have really quality people there.

"MLS requires all teams to operate developmental academies which is something we'll have to look at over the next few years but the NSC already has dorms up there so a lot of things are coming together around infrastructure."

"We're really happy there," he added.

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